In early May of 1968, my dad and I took off work early one afternoon and towed the boat down to Galveston Island, bought a quart of shrimp for $4.00, launched it and headed out into west bay on the east side of the causeway. Our objective for the day was to find a school of birds, sea gulls, working over shrimp that the speckled trout were driving towards the surface. Today we’d be using live shrimp and our tackle was 6-1/2 foot popping rods, Dad had a red reel and I had a direct drive model, both spooled with 15, pound line, popping corks, a 2 to 3 foot leader with small treble hooks.
We headed out to the Intercoastal Waterway where the channels split, turned right along the Pelican Island channel, cut the motor down and started looking. Not 400 yards ahead, there was a big bird school and with no other boats in sight, we’d have this one to ourselves. Positioning our boat down wind from the birds, we drifted up and at 40 yards, made our first casts. Dad sailed his cast right in front of the birds and before he could turn the reel handle had a big strike and me, trying to hard to make a long cast, had a wonderful backlash!
While I picked at the backlash, Dad was in a big fight with the spec that later proved just under 5 pounds, but soon he wore it down and as I slid the net under it, Dad unhooked it and put it in the cooler, rebaited and cast back out. Finally proving victorious over the backlash, I cast out and we both had big strikes, good fish that circled us around the boat, wallowed on top and we finally tired out both specs and netted the almost 5 pounders. Having only one net on board, I netted my dad’s fish, then he netted mine and, while we were wasting precious fishing time with this school of big trout, it fell to me to untangle the mess.
Untangling us, we baited up and cast out, had simultaneous strikes, 2 more nice fish, but mine slipped the hook and Dad brought his spec in, I netted it and added another to the box. Baiting up and casting out, Dad was immediately into another nice spec, while I had the Mother of all backlashes. This one shut down my fishing for the afternoon, Dad added 2 more almost 5 pounders giving us a total of 6, almost 30 pounds of speckled trout!
The birds finally dissipated, Dad cast out several times with no strikes, so we drifted for almost 15 minutes hoping the specs would gather back up, they didn’t, so we headed back in, filleted the fish and drove back to our southwest Houston homes, all the while me thinking, I’ll have to get me one of those smooth casting, red reels.
The next day I stopped by Oshman’s and picked me up a brand spankin’ new red reel!